How to Grow Dandelion Greens

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Dandelion greens are nutritious, delicious and versatile. They can be added to salads, soups and stews or sautéed and served as a side dish. What you may have only thought of as a pesky weed in your yard is actually a flowering herb with significant health benefits.

The dandelion plant belongs to the largest plant family — the Asteraceae or sunflower family — which includes more than 22,000 species, such as daisies and thistles. The dandelion alone has more than 100 different species, all of which are beneficial to your health.1 In fact, every part of the dandelion can be used, from the roots to the leaves and flowers.

You probably know how difficult they are to eradicate from your yard. When you mow them each week, the plant accommodates and grows a shorter stalk.2 Dandelions have become masters of survival, which is likely what makes them such successful weeds. However, while you may not want them growing in your yard, there are benefits to growing your own patch of dandelions and harvesting the greens for your table.

History of the Dandelion Herb

The dandelion has been embraced across cultures and centuries, but has now been branded suburban enemy No 1. An estimated 80 million pounds of chemicals are poured on yards across the U.S. to eradicate the little flowering herbs, but year after year these hardy plants return. Before the invention of lawns, however, gardeners used to weed out the grass to make room for more dandelions.

The name of the plant originated from the French who called it “dent de lion” or tooth of the lion, as the jagged edges of the leaves are suggestive of a lion’s tooth.3 Although it is native to Europe and Asia, it has been carried around the world and is probably one of the most recognizable plants worldwide. It is believed the European settlers found the plant so useful they purposefully brought the dandelion with them to the New World.

The official botanical name for the dandelion is Taraxacum officinale. The pollen from the dandelion doesn’t cause allergic reactions as the grains are too large. However, the sap from the plant may cause a common contact dermatitis resulting in swelling and itching.4

The plant is known to grow just about anywhere, but loves direct sunlight. As the flower matures it forms a familiar white puff of seeds that can float as far as 100 miles in the wind before settling into the soil and seeding yet another plot of land.5 Some outdoorsmen claim the dandelion helps them predict the weather. After the flower has gone to seed, if rain is coming the head reportedly will cover the seeds to protect the seed ball until the threat of rain has passed.6

Plant Your Dandelion Crop in the Spring

If you are planting your own dandelion crop, it is probably best to plant them furthest from your neighbor’s yard and remove the heads before they seed. You can grow a full crop in your backyard using an inexpensive hot house that allows sun in and keeps the seeds from spreading. Even with such precautions, seed can still leave the hothouse on your clothing or on the sole of you shoes, so you’ll still want to remove the heads before the seed ball forms.

When you are starting a crop, the first seeds can be sown outside approximately four to six weeks before the last frost.7 Once they have sprouted, which takes seven to 10 days,8 you’ll want to thin them so they are 6 to 8 inches apart, allowing for full growth of the greens and plenty of room for the tap root. You can choose from a variety of different dandelion plants to meet your particular needs. The Clio produces upright greens that are easy to harvest and the Ameliore is a French strain with broader leaves and a milder flavor.9

The root of the dandelion routinely goes 18 inches deep into the soil and is an excellent way of keeping the soil from compacting.10 The root is sturdy and often has little hairy rootlets that may remain in the ground when you harvest your plants and regrow a new plant.11 Although the plants are incredibly resilient to poor conditions, the quality of nutrition you receive from the greens will depend on the quality of the soil the herb grows in.

Dandelions thrive in full sun, but will grow in partial shade. Use soil that drains well and compost the soil in the fall to encourage a strong spring crop. You can harvest the leaves and flowers throughout the summer months. The roots are best harvested during frost-free fall months.12 Before harvesting the leaves, cover the plants with a dark opaque cloth so the leaves blanch, reducing the bitterness of the greens.13

The blossoms should be harvested when they are young and tender, just as they have bloomed. Putting them in a bowl of cold water will prevent them from closing before you eat them.14

Dandelions will grow problem free. You won’t have to treat for pests or change planting location unless they are planted in full shade. Dandelions may also be grown in container gardens, which makes covering them to blanch the leaves, or cutting the flower when they go to seed, much easier than if they are planted in your herb garden. Containers can also be set up high to reduce the potential for back pain as you are bending to care for the plants and prevent them from seeding your lawn or your neighbor’s yard.

Dandelions Have Significant Health Benefits

Small birds eat the seeds of the dandelion; pigs, goats and rabbits eat the flowers and the nectar is food for the honey bee.15 But, beyond a food source for wildlife, the dandelion holds an amazing amount of health benefits for you as well. There are uses in your kitchen from the root to the flower, and health benefits to each part of the plant as well. Some studies have demonstrated the greens help produce antibodies to cancer.16

Dandelion greens are high in calcium, iron and potassium.17 They are also rich in vitamins C, A, K,18 thiamine and riboflavin,19 and surprisingly rank ahead of both broccoli and spinach in nutritional value. A full cup of chopped greens is a low 24 calories, packing more nutrition in a serving than some of the vegetables you routinely grow in your garden each year.

The vitamins and minerals provided in your dandelion greens help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, eye disorders, support your immune system and the development of strong bones and teeth. Practitioners of folk medicine have been using dandelion root and leaves for centuries to prevent and treat several health conditions. The root of the plant increases the flow of bile that may help reduce gallstones, liver congestion and inflammation and jaundice.20

The plant has a second name, “pis-en-lit,” (wet the bed) — a name that refers to the diuretic effect of its greens.21 When eaten before bed, they may require you make several trips to the bathroom during the night. Some find the leaves to have a mild laxative effect that aids in movement through your digestive tract.22 Traditionally, the root of the dandelion has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, as it has mild anti-inflammatory effects.

Time of harvest affects the properties of the root. Fall harvest has the greatest health benefits and produces an opaque extract with higher levels of inulin and levulin, starch-like substances that may help balance your blood sugar.23 Spring and summer harvest of the root produces a less bitter product, but with less potent health benefits.

The herb has been used by Native Americans to help heartburn and upset stomach and the Chinese have used it to improve breast milk flow and reduce inflammation in the breast during lactation.24 The Europeans used dandelion greens to help relieve fever, boils, diarrhea and diabetes. As a precautionary note, dandelions may make the side effects of lithium worse, and may increase your risk of bleeding if you are taking a blood thinner.25

Dandelions Propagate Profusely

Dandelions growing in the center of your yard can be harvested and eaten as long as your yard is chemical free and your neighbors don’t spray. Even if your neighbors use chemical pellets to treat the yard, the chemicals migrate to the edges of your yard, so don’t harvest and eat the dandelions within 10 feet of your neighbor’s yard.

You may end up with dandelions in your own yard in places where you don’t want them growing. There are several ways to remove them without resorting to chemicals. Even the pellets you sprinkle across your lawn to control weeds contribute to the damage done to wildlife in your area and groundwater pollution that affects the quality of drinking water. Over 5 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually across the world.26 These chemicals affect both plant life and the birds and wildlife that feed on the vegetation.

In most instances the chemicals are fat soluble. This means there is significant biomagnification as the chemicals remain in the insect and animal bodies and accumulate up the food chain. A conservative estimate is that 672 million birds are exposed to pesticides in the U.S. annually and 10 percent of those, or 67 million, are killed outright from ingesting the chemicals.27 The extent of the damage done long term to the bird population is difficult to estimate.

Birds exposed to chemicals also suffer “sublethal” effects that include thinning egg shells that break under the weight of the incubating adult, hormone disruption, impaired immune systems and a lack of appetite.28 Each of these consequences severely impairs the ability of the bird to reproduce, migrate and survive.

Birds may be particularly vulnerable as they can both mistake the pesticide pellets for seed and eat insects that are also laden with chemicals, doubling the load of pesticides they ingest.

Children are also more vulnerable than adults as they absorb more chemicals for their size relative to adults and are more vulnerable to the effects of the toxins in their bodies. A report by Environmental and Human Health Inc. found children exposed to pesticides had a higher incidence of childhood leukemia, soft tissue sarcomas and brain cancers.29

Some assume these chemicals are safe for use as they are sold over-the-counter, but while the Environmental Protection Agency classifies four of the more common lawn chemicals as having insufficient data to assess the impact on the development of cancer in humans, all are associated with the sixth most common form of cancer in the U.S., non-Hodgkin lymphoma.30

These chemicals don’t disappear after a couple of days either. They are incorporated into the leaves of the grass eaten by insects and your pet dog. They seep into the groundwater in your neighborhood, which affects the water that eventually reaches your tap. Residue is tracked indoors on the bottom of your shoes where it accumulates in the dust in your home.

Get Rid of Your Lawn Dandelions Naturally

There are several ways to keep your lawn clear of dandelions without resorting to toxic chemicals. Dandelions thrive in direct sunlight so when the grass grows 3 to 4 inches tall it helps to reduce the growth of the plant. The plant won’t flower until all the leaves have formed and only if there is sufficient sunlight and moisture.31 In the short time-lapsed video above you can watch one dandelion go from flower to seed ball in two days.

You can kill the plant, and therefore not worry about the tap root producing another plant, by spraying a mixture of white vinegar, water and salt directly on the plant. This will kill the surrounding plants as well, so use a direct spray and be careful where you aim it.

Your third option is to pull the plants from the ground, being careful to pull up the tap root from the end as any root you leave will produce another plant. Work in your yard when the ground is moist, such as after a deep watering or a long slow rain. Mother Earth News recommends three different weeders designed specifically for dandelions to help you remain chemical free.32

Each of the weeding options allow you to work standing up to reduce strain on your lower back and knees. The prices range between $20 and $30. Using a combination of all three strategies — length of grass, spraying individual plants with vinegar and salt and pulling individual plants — may help you keep a lawn free of dandelions and even address other types of weeds. Remember to address the plant before it goes to seed, as once the seeds begin to spread, all control is lost.

Use the Leaves, Roots and Flowers in Recipes at Home

In this short video, a chef from the Martha Steward test kitchen demonstrates making a chick pea and dandelion salad using fresh from the garden vegetables. Using the greens in a salad is just one way to use the plant — there are many more:33,34

? Roots can be dried, ground and brewed like coffee

? Dandelion wine made from the flowers

? Flowers fried in butter

? Dry the roots, roast a 300 degrees F and grind; add to hot chocolate

? Mix greens in potato salad or egg salad

? Sautéed like spinach and added to eggs, served as a side dish or in a quiche

? Cold pickling in a salt brine; heat may destroy the delicate leaves

? Kimchi made with dandelion greens

? Flowers mixed with apple peel or orange zest and made into jam

? Roots chopped fine and stir fried

? Dandelion pumpkin seed pesto

? Dandelion blossom cookies

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Skyrocketing Male Infertility May Threaten Mankind’s Survival

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Human fertility is in a downward spiral, scientists warn and modern life — with its technological and chemical “progress” — is likely to blame. Female infertility tends to get the most attention, but in this case, it’s male infertility that has made headlines, as recent research shows sperm concentration and quality has dramatically declined in recent decades.1,2,3,4,5

According to the first of two recently published papers,6 a meta-analysis of 185 studies and the largest of its kind, sperm counts around the world declined by more than 50 percent, to 47 million sperm per milliliter (mL), between 1973 and 2013, and continue to dwindle.

The most significant declines were found in samples from men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, where many had sperm concentrations below 40 million/mL. (Men suspected of infertility, such as those attending IVF clinics, were excluded from the study.) Overall, men in these countries had a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 percent decline in total sperm count (sperm concentration multiplied by the total volume of an ejaculate).

Male Infertility Rates Warn of Impending Human Extinction

According to the World Health Organization, 40 million sperm per mL is considered the cutoff point at which a man will have trouble fertilizing an egg, which means half of the men in most developed nations are near or at the point of being infertile. South American, Asian and African men had no noticeable decline, although this discrepancy could be due to the smaller sample sizes obtained from those countries.

As noted by Frederick vom Saal, professor emeritus of biological sciences at the University of Missouri, who was not involved in the study, these findings are a wake-up call and a warning that “we are in a death spiral of infertility in men.” Indeed, lead author Dr. Hagai Levine, who called the results “profound” and “shocking,”7 worries that human extinction is a very real possibility, should the trend continue unabated.8

Danish researcher and pediatrician Dr. Niels Skakkebæk, who in 1992 published a paper9 showing male fertility declined between 1940 and 1990, also commented on the findings, saying:

“These two new papers add significantly to existing literature on adverse trends in male reproductive health problems … Here in Denmark, there is an epidemic of infertility. More than 20 percent of Danish men do not father children. Most worryingly [in Denmark] is that semen quality is in general so poor that an average young Danish man has much fewer sperm than men had a couple of generations ago, and more than 90 percent of their sperm are abnormal.”

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Wreak Havoc on Men’s Reproductive Ability

The second paper,10 published in PLOS Genetics, suggests endocrine disrupting chemicals are to blame for the dramatic decline in reproductive health among men.11 It found that exposing male mice to ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic sex hormone found in birth control pills, causes developmental problems in the reproductive tract, thereby lowering sperm counts.

While men do not use birth control pills, they’re exposed to them nonetheless through contaminated water and other sources. Men are also exposed to a number of other endocrine disrupting chemicals in their day-to-day lives,12 thanks to the pernicious use of endocrine disrupting chemicals in plastics, personal care products, herbicides such as glyphosate13 (which is a very common contaminant in non-organic foods) and more.

The study also confirmed that the effects of environmental estrogens have generational effects. Males are successively becoming increasingly more sterile with each passing generation. As reported by Environmental Health News:14

“They observed adverse effects starting in the first generation of mouse lineages where each generation was exposed for a brief period shortly after birth. The impacts worsened in the second generation compared to the first, and by the third generation the scientists were finding animals that could not produce sperm at all.

This latter condition was not seen in the first two generations exposed. Details of the experimental results actually suggested that multiple generations of exposure may have increased male sensitivity to the chemical.”

Testicular cancer is also on the rise, as are congenital malformations of the penis, and these problems have also been linked to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Experiments on fathead minnows show endocrine disrupters turn the fish into a sterile intersex species, meaning they have both male and female reproductive systems yet are incapable of reproducing.15

While women are also adversely affected by these kinds of chemicals, men are disproportionally affected due to the way the male reproductive system develops in utero. At the outset, male and female fetuses are fairly identical. Sex hormones are what drive the differentiation between the sexes. Alas, when synthetic chemicals that mimic these all-important hormones enter into the mix, it confuses the process and interferes with the biological process of turning the fetus into a male.

Corruption and Lies Threaten Human Health and Survival

The Unites States permits more than 84,000 chemicals to be used in household products, cosmetics, food and food packaging, and a majority of these have never been tested for safety. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 85 percent of new chemical applications include no testing whatsoever.

What’s worse, the chemical industry has a long history of lying about the safety of their wares, and its powerful lobby has allowed the industry to saturate the world in extremely dangerous chemicals with little or no oversight.

As revealed by Grant David Gillham,16 a political consultant who ran Citizens for Fire Safety, the American Chemistry Council17 (the chemical industry’s trade group) flat out lied when it said it had no involvement with Citizens for Fire Safety. The group was in fact created with the specific aim of defending the use of flame retardants in furniture — despite the fact that they don’t work and are profoundly toxic — to protect the industry’s interests.

Everything an expectant mother takes into her body can potentially get passed along to her developing child, and scientific evidence strongly suggests exposure to chemicals is contributing to cancer, reproductive abnormalities, early puberty18,19,20 and a host of other endocrine, neurological and metabolic problems.

In a 2005 study,21 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of infants born in the U.S. Tests detected a total of 287 chemicals from pesticides, consumer products, food packaging and environmental waste, including BPA, flame retardants, PCBs and even DDT. As noted in a 2009 scientific statement from the Endocrine Society:22

“The evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes (infertility, cancers, malformations) from exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals is strong, and there is mounting evidence for effects on other endocrine systems, including thyroid, neuroendocrine, obesity and metabolism, and insulin and glucose homeostasis …

Effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals may be transmitted to further generations through germline epigenetic modifications or from continued exposure of offspring to the environmental insult.”

Hormone Disrupting Chemicals — The Dirty Dozen

As mentioned, endocrine disrupting chemicals specifically alter the normal function of your hormones.23 A hormone’s job is to interact with the cells in your body, sending signals that instruct them to perform certain tasks, and endocrine disrupting chemicals interfere with this communication process. In 2013, the EWG24 identified 12 of the most troublesome hormone wreckers.

Surprisingly, along with some very well-known endocrine disruptors,25,26 the review also identified several you might not normally associate with hormone disruption, such as lead, mercury and arsenic. The EWG’s “dirty dozen” list for the 12 worst endocrine disruptors are outlined in the following table.

I’ve written about many of these in prior articles, so for more information about any particular one, please follow the links. For a list of some of the most common sources of these hormone wreckers, please see “10 Sources of Endocrine Disruptors and How to Avoid Them.”

? Bisphenol-A (BPA)

? Dioxin

? Atrazine

? Phthalates

? Perchlorate

? Fire retardants27

? Lead

? Mercury

? Arsenic

? Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

? Organophosphate pesticides28

? Glycol ethers

Other Root Causes of Infertility

While endocrine disrupting chemicals are high on the list of contributing factors, they’re not the only ones. Other variables that can affect a man’s reproductive ability include:

  • Electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures
  • Nutritional deficiencies and/or food intolerances
  • Stress
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Obesity and/or inactivity

These subtle but critical factors synergistically interact to impact the quality of a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm, affecting a couple’s ability to conceive and the health of the embryo. For example, while a gluten intolerance alone cannot cause infertility, the resulting gut inflammation can affect your nutrient absorption and lead to deficiencies in nutrients you need for optimal sperm, egg and hormone production and a healthy pregnancy.

In terms of diet, certain nutrients are also more important than others when it comes to fertility. Animal-based omega-3 fats and vitamin D are two vital components that can have a significant impact. Both are also crucial during pregnancy to protect the health of both mother and child.

Optimizing your vitamin D could be one of the most important things a woman could possibly do in pregnancy, as research clearly shows that achieving a vitamin D serum level of at least 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) reduces the risk of premature birth by 60 percent. It also helps protect against a number or pregnancy complications, as well as autism spectrum disorder and Type 1 diabetes in the child.  

Microwave Exposure Is Decimating Male Reproductive Health

I personally believe this may be the most significant factor for the observed decrease in male sperm count. You may not recall this, but it was well known in World War II that radar operators could easily create sterility by exposing the groin to radar waves. Radar is microwave radiation and was the precursor to cellphones that use similar frequencies.

In May 2011, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified radiofrequency EMF — such as the radiation from cellphones — a class 2B carcinogen, meaning it is possibly carcinogenic to humans.29 Research also suggests microwave radiation may play a significant role in male reproductive health.

While evaluating studies showing you can radically reduce biological microwave damage using calcium channel blockers, Dr. Martin Pall discovered a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies.30

Embedded in your cell membranes are voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs). It turns out these VGCCs are activated by microwaves, and when that happens, about 1 million calcium ions per second are released.

This massive excess of intracellular calcium then stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO) inside your cell and mitochondria, which combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite. Not only does peroxynitrites cause oxidative damage, they also create hydroxyl free radicals — the most destructive free radicals known to man.

Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins. The end result is mitochondrial dysfunction, which we now know is at the heart of most chronic disease.

The tissues with the highest density of VGCCs are your brain, the pacemaker in your heart and male testes. (A man’s testicles are also more vulnerable to EMFs for the fact that they’re on the outside of the body. Women’s eggs, on the other hand, are somewhat protected and shielded from EMFs due to them being further inside the body.31)

What this research tells us is that excessive microwave exposure can be a direct contributor to conditions such as Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, autism, cardiac arrhythmias and infertility.32 Indeed, other studies have linked low-level electromagnetic radiation (EMR) exposure from cellphones to an 8 percent reduction in sperm motility and a 9 percent reduction in sperm viability.33,34

Wi-Fi equipped laptop computers have also been linked to decreased sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation after just four hours of use!35 So, if you care about your reproductive health, avoid carrying your cellphone in your pockets or on your hip, and avoid using portable computers and tablets on your lap.

Strategies to Treat Infertility and Boost Fertility Naturally

Considering there are many factors contributing to male infertility, any comprehensive list of recommendations is bound to be a long one. That said, following are a number of common sense suggestions that will address the root causes of infertility. For more detailed information on treating infertility naturally, including specific information on all fertility nutrients, fertility diet, what to avoid and the influence of stress and sleep on fertility, check out Iva Keene’s home study fertility program, “The Natural Fertility Prescription.”36

? Minimize your exposure to toxic chemicals

Exposure to environmental toxins, both in utero and neonatally, may dramatically affect adult fertility. Compounds that can alter hormone function and result in adverse reproductive health effects include but are not limited to heavy metals; endocrine disruptors; phthalates (associated with testicular toxicity and hormonal disruption even at low levels); VCH chemicals used in rubber tires, plastics and pesticides; PAHs released from cigarettes, car fumes and road tar; pesticides and herbicides; formaldehyde; bisphenols found in plastic products; organic solvents; dry-cleaning chemicals and paint fumes.

For a list of suggestions on how to minimize your exposure to these kinds of toxins, please see “Your Body’s Chemical Burden.”

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

? Avoid drinking unfiltered tap water

Our waterways are constantly being polluted by industrial waste and byproducts, pharmaceutical drugs (such as birth control pills and other hormone therapies), pesticides and commercial cleaning products. Heavy metals are the most common of the reproductive toxins reaching our water supply through industrial waste, jet fuel exhaust residue and a variety of other sources.

? Eat an optimal fertility diet

An optimal fertility diet is about what to avoid as much as it is about what to include. Eat REAL food, ideally organic, to avoid pesticide residues, and locally grown. Processed and packaged foods are a common source not only of pesticides but also chemicals such as bisphenol-A and phthalates.

Key elements are good-quality protein sources (organic and grass fed when it comes to animal products) and healthy fats.

Avoid factory farmed animal products, harmful trans fats and processed vegetable oils. Also avoid unfermented soy products, as soybeans contain phytoestrogens that act on hormones. For an added boost, consider adding more of the following “sperm-enhancing” foods:37 organic pastured eggs, spinach, bananas, dark chocolate, asparagus, broccoli, pomegranates, walnuts, garlic and all zinc-rich foods (as zinc plays a key role in sperm development).

? Avoid common allergens

An overactive immune system is more likely to attack its own body cells, and the link between food intolerances and anti-sperm antibodies is well established. The two most widely spread food intolerances are gluten and dairy. Factory farmed milk can also be a source of estrogen that can harm a man’s fertility. Hormones found in factory farmed cows’ milk include:

  • Prolactin
  • Somatostatin
  • Melatonin
  • Oxytocin
  • Growth hormone
  • Luteinizing releasing hormone
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone
  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Insulin
  • Corticosteroids and many more

? Minimize microwave exposure

Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body while it is on, and avoid using laptops and tablets on your lap. More generally, it would also be wise to limit your total exposure by turning your Wi-Fi off at night, and make your bedroom an EMF-free zone.

? Get checked for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Some STDs can be asymptomatic, meaning you may not be aware you have them as there are no obvious symptoms. One such STD is a chlamydia infection. In men, chlamydia can lead to sperm abnormalities including sperm antibodies.

In women, it can lead to scarring, blocked tubes and miscarriage. Most STDs are easy to treat, so it pays for both partners to have an STD check. There is no point in only one partner going for a test as the other partner can reinfect them again.

? Avoid coffee, smoking and alcohol

While organic black coffee has a number of health benefits, fertility does not appear to be one of them. On the contrary, studies suggest it decreases fertility. In one study, men who drank three or more caffeinated beverages per day during the conception phase raised their partner’s risk of miscarriage by more than 70 percent.38

Alcohol is also harmful to both eggs and sperm, and increases the risk of miscarriage. Needless to say, smoking and recreational drugs also have an adverse effect on fertility, reducing the size of your testes and lowering your sperm count.

? Get regular exercise

According to recent research, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week can help boost men’s sperm count. And, to maintain healthy swimmers, you need to stay active —  within a month of quitting exercise, sperm count starts to wane again.39 That said, be aware that bicycling may have an adverse effect on your sperm. In one study, men who routinely cycled 300 kilometers per week ended up having fertility problems.40

? Normalize your weight

Obesity contributes to infertility, so normalizing your weight can help improve your sperm quality and quantity. For guidance, please review my free nutrition plan.

? Limit hot baths and saunas

While hot baths and saunas have a myriad of health benefits, the heat can take a toll on sperm. In one three-year-long study, 5 of 11 men who quit taking hot baths were able to raise their sperm count by nearly 500 percent. So, limiting hot baths and saunas for a few months may be helpful during the conception phase. I do a far-infrared sauna nearly every day, but I put a small freezer block of ice next to my groin to keep the temperature low.

? Combat stress

From making sure you’re getting sufficient amounts of sleep and exercising regularly to incorporating a tool like the Emotional Freedom Techniques or taking up yoga or meditation, there are many ways to address stress. Try a few different things and stick to whatever works.

? Clean up your home environment 

Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm. Look for products made by companies that are Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic and GMO-free.

This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, furniture, mattresses and others.

When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses or carpet padding, consider buying flame retardant-free varieties, containing naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, cotton, silk and Kevlar. Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove contaminated house dust. This is one of the major routes of exposure to flame retardant chemicals.

Also switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep database41 can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.

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Successful Vitamin D Project Aims to Change Standard of Care for Pregnant Women Across US

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Despite being simple and inexpensive to address, vitamin D deficiency is epidemic around the world. It’s been estimated that if vitamin D levels were raised among the general population, it could prevent chronic diseases that claim nearly a million lives throughout the world each year. Raising vitamin D levels among pregnant women is of particular concern, as insufficiency affects both the mother and her developing child.

Protect Our Children NOW! is a GrassrootsHealth campaign launched in 2015 to combat vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women worldwide. Research by GrassrootsHealth shows 40 to 60 percent of preterm births could be prevented by raising pregnant women’s vitamin D to a level of 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). This really seems to be the sweet spot, above which the risk for many complications and health problems dramatically decline.

Preterm birth is defined as a birth before 37 weeks’ gestation. One of the reasons GrassrootsHealth created a field trial around pregnancy and preterm birth is because there’s a clearly defined timeframe — babies either are or are not preterm, which makes the results unambiguous. Preterm birth is cited as the reason for 28 percent of newborn deaths during the first month of life.

Preterm babies are also more likely to suffer health problems later on, including a higher risk of ADHD, cerebral palsy, autism, asthma, intestinal problems, pneumonia, vision problems, hearing loss and dental problems. As of 2015, the U.S. had a preterm birth rate of 9.6 percent, meaning nearly 1 in 10 babies were born prematurely. The U.S., while one of the most advanced countries in the world, ranked No. 130 in preterm births out of 184 countries in 2010.

The Benefits of Optimizing Vitamin D During Pregnancy

Protect our Children NOW! is a cost-effective, reproducible program that protects children by ensuring pregnant mothers are vitamin D sufficient. Aside from halving the risk for preterm birth, vitamin D optimization also reduces the mother’s risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and prenatal infections by approximately 50 percent.1

Research also confirms there is a lifelong impact for children born of vitamin D deficient mothers, ranging from childhood allergies and asthma to more frequent colds and flu, dental cavities, diabetes, autism and even strokes and cardiovascular disease in later life. All of these conditions can be reduced by optimizing vitamin D during pregnancy.2,3,4

According to the 2015 Save the Children report5 on the health of mothers around the world, the U.S. ranked worst among developed countries. American women face a 1 in 1,800 risk of dying during pregnancy, and are more than 10 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than women in Belarus, Poland and Australia. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to change this abysmal track record.

Protect Our Children NOW!

Protect Our Children NOW! was initiated by Carole Baggerly, founder of GrassrootsHealth,6 which has a panel of more than 40 vitamin D researchers that provide scientific advice. Dr. Carol Wagner, a neonatologist, is the lead principal investigator for Protect Our Children NOW! The program was initially implemented at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), a federally qualified health care center.

Vitamin D supplements were made available to all pregnant women in 5,000 IU capsules, donated by Bio-Tech Pharmacal. Pregnant women residing in South Carolina were able to enroll in this community demonstration project at no cost. The insurers paid for the vitamin D tests. Now, the results are in and not only has it led to a successful change in practice at MUSC, but the data also confirms that vitamin D optimization does indeed reduce premature birth.

Every day, there are approximately 1,000 preterm births in the U.S. By making vitamin D optimization standard of care across the nation, that number could likely be less than 500. According to estimates by March of Dimes, each preterm birth has a price tag of about $50,000. By making this one simple change in care, the U.S. could save more than $9 billion per year, including $4.5 billion in Medicaid costs.

Over the past two years, Protect our Children NOW! has created a successful template for standard of care that is now ready to be implemented throughout the U.S. in any hospital willing to participate. To start, the project needs your help to expand its support to at least three major hospitals and their pregnant populations. To begin the implementation of the program, they need $200,000 this year. To fund all three hospitals, a total of $1 million is needed. I urge you to make a donation right now. By doing so, you will help save thousands of lives, and improve the health of both mothers and children.

Your Support Is Needed Now

I believe optimizing vitamin D during pregnancy is one of the most important things you can do for your and your child’s health — it’s so simple and inexpensive, and the benefits are so dramatic, it’s really a no-brainer. Unfortunately, many women are still unaware of this simple strategy, and many doctors are also underinformed. Protect our Children NOW! can change all of that, and I hope you will help them do just that.

So, please, make a donation right now, and I will match the first $25,000, dollar for dollar. I know we are constantly asking for your support but these are noble causes, and I would not ask if I were not donating first, so I appreciate your consideration.

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Our Goal — Improve Health Outcomes for Pregnant Women and Their Babies

One of the things that makes this initiative so exciting is that Blue Cross Blue Shield is helping at the state level and will be helping create some statewide educational programs. This is great news, since the high profile of this insurance company will increase the chances of eventually getting the standard of care changed nationwide. Blue Cross endorsement has the potential to EXPLODE this initiative across the country and could be a very strategic leverage of anything you are able to donate for support.

As with the initial South Carolina project, your donation will allow GrassrootsHealth to implement a “change in standard of care” for the entire pregnant population (an estimated 3,000 women per hospital) in each of the three hospitals for two years, after which the outcomes of each community project will be published.

The change in care includes vitamin D testing for all pregnant women upon their initial obstetrics visit. If their level is below the minimum target of 40 ng/mL, they will receive free vitamin D supplements. A second and third follow-up test will be administered about 8 to 12 weeks, and 24 weeks after the initial visit. Protect our Children NOW! will also provide the following categories of support to participating hospitals:

  • A one-time grant to help pay for internal data collection and extraction, project leader compensation, and ongoing implementation and communication with staff
  • Customization of infrastructure of the GrassrootsHealth protocol to meet the specific needs of the hospital and its community. This includes the institutional review board application within the hospital, definition of the measurements to be used to quantify results, custom literature, educational courses for their doctors, and project management by GrassrootsHealth
  • Analysis of the health and lab test data by GrassrootsHealth on a bimonthly basis to a) provide ongoing direction to the local project manager and b) provide critical information to patients and to remind them of the need to take their supplements and to do their vitamin D tests at specified times. This methodology is key to the compliance of both patients and doctors with the program protocols
  • Disseminating outcomes through the creation of a scientific publication of the results; meeting with state and local officials to promote awareness and providing additional educational sessions

Research Supports Vitamin D Optimization During Pregnancy

The science supporting vitamin D optimization during pregnancy has been demonstrated in several randomized trials. To that, we can now add the large population study produced by the Protect our Children NOW! project at MUSC. The results of this research were published July 24 in PLoS One.7 As noted in a recent press release:

“This first-of-its kind study demonstrated significant results by changing the standard of care for pregnant women. The goal was to help pregnant women achieve a vitamin D serum level of at least 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) — which has been demonstrated to be the threshold for benefit in previous randomized trials …

This population study included over 1,000 pregnant women at the Medical University of South Carolina. Results found that women who achieved a 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum level of ? 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) had a 60 percent lower risk of preterm birth compared to those with levels < 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/L).

Two randomized controlled trials with vitamin D and pregnancy outcomes and an associated post-hoc analysis by researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) showed a 59 percent lower risk of preterm births with 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of ?40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) compared to women with concentrations ? 20 ng/ml (the current sufficient level recommended by the Institute of Medicine).

This new population study of all pregnant women at the medical center, using the implementation services of GrassrootsHealth and their Protect our Children NOW! program, has confirmed that results can be replicated in a much larger population.”

Among non-Caucasian women, the preterm rate prior to the start of the study was 18 percent. Those who achieved a vitamin D level of 40 ng/mL by their second test had a 78 percent lower preterm birth rate — reducing the preterm birth rate to just 4 percent!

preterm birth rate for women
preterm birth rate non-white women

GrassrootsHealth has also compiled data from its D*action participants and other partner institutions, which clearly shows that vitamin D serum levels do not increase linearly with dosage. For that reason, it’s actually quite difficult to reach toxic levels, and no signs of toxicity were found in the study population. As noted by Baggerly:

“It is seldom that we find a solution to a major health problem that is demonstrably simple, safe and effective, but we have that here. Prevention is the key to health — not treatment of the disease. A hospital in Columbia, SC, Palmetto, is starting their implementation based on these findings. Funding is needed to continue this implementation. We hope you will help us support this initiative for the next generation of people.”

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Pregnant? Join GrassrootsHealth Study

If you are currently 12 to 17 weeks pregnant, you can join the join the GrassrootsHealth pregnancy study for free and test your vitamin D level from the comfort of your own home. If you are planning a pregnancy, or are more than 17 weeks pregnant, you can take control of your and your child’s health by using the D*Action test kit. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to monitor your vitamin D status.

Keep in mind that while most prenatal vitamins contain some vitamin D, the amount is unlikely to be high enough to raise your level to 40 ng/mL. Also remember that the only way to ensure vitamin D is suffice is to get tested, and to tailor your dosage to achieve at least 40 ng/mL. Ideally, you’ll want to achieve a level of 40 ng/mL as early as possible in your pregnancy. Breastfeeding women should also supplement with 6,400 IUs of vitamin D3 per day to optimize your child’s health.8

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Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal
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